Creating our new growing area reminded us of the Organic Principle : “Build and Maintain Soil Health”, the first step being to understand our soil. The trays in the image are examples of the six main types of soil. The top row has chalky soil, sandy soil and clay; the lower row has loam, silt and peat. Loam is the ideal – roughly equal parts of sand, silt and clay particle, good, crumbly, workable, good water retention and nutrient holding capacity. Our ground is not there yet. There is a spade depth layer of gritty topsoil on top of a red sand which probably has its origins in made up ground on top of the former railway sidings. (There is other stuff too – we came across pieces of clay pipe, and a golf ball!) Serpentine is also established on top of made up ground, with protective layers of MOT and impermeable membranes to keep the raised bed contents separate. The raised beds are largely filled with “imported” topsoil of varying standards plus some gritsand. Improving the health for both gardens is what we have been doing – adding compost and bulky organic materials such as leaf mould, minimising digging to avoid disturbing complex soil life, planning planting to avoid build up of disease, growing green manures. So we are on the right path and the latest photos from the site show some happy plants!.

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